ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Two days after Detroit Lions defensive lineman Trey Flowers was flagged for an illegal hands-to-the-face penalty that the NFL later said shouldn’t have been called, a billboard appeared on various freeways in the Detroit metropolitan area making a statement about it.
The billboard displays a referee wearing a cheesehead, with a fist just under the referee’s chin, and will be displayed in seven locations throughout Detroit for the rest of the week.
The penalty set up the Green Bay Packers‘ game-winning field goal Monday night.
Lions cornerback Justin Coleman laughed Wednesday when a picture of the billboard was shown to him.
“That real?” Coleman asked. “My goodness. That’s creative, though.”
This isn’t the first time billboards have appeared in Detroit following controversial officiating decisions or free-agent departures involving the Lions. Courtney Richards, a spokesperson for Outfront Media, said this is from is the same group of anonymous Lions fans who leased billboards in 2015.
Three times in a 12-month span, billboards were leased from Outfront to protest calls.
In 2015, seven billboards reading “Blind to the bat” — with an image of an official wearing sunglasses — appeared in the area after a batted-ball controversy during a Monday Night Football game against Seattle. During that game, Calvin Johnson fumbled the ball, which was batted out of the end zone by Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright. Instead of the Lions retaining the ball on the 1-yard line, the Seahawks gained possession.
In January 2015, after the Lions lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round — partly due to an overturned pass interference call — billboards reading “Detroit Lyin’,” with a referee making the signal for pass interference, appeared above city freeways.